Friday, 18 May 2018

Film review: Deadpool 2

That rhymes.

Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!
Here be SPOILERS for Deadpool 2!

Here we go with another movie review. To keep myself on track (because I could probably talk about Deadpool the character until I die of starvation), I’ll keep it to 3 words.


The Scooby Gang
Nope, not me blagging a way to talk about Deadpool the character until I die of starvation. This is more about the others who turned up - Vanessa Longhair, Domino the fucking awesome, Negasonic Teenage Awesomest X-Men Name Ever, Yukio the barely-there but very important girlfriend, Actual Swearer Colossus, Brad Pitt and the Red Shirts (that sounds like a grunge band), White Thanos and Ted, Weasel, Blind Al, and the irrepressible Dopinder. Not to mention the point of the story, Russell, who was both a focus and a trope-breaker.

Russell was a great pick because he was The One That Didn’t Fit - he starts off by saying he’s only side-lined to the ‘orphanage’ in the first place because they don’t make plus-size supersuits. That alone made me happy - and then the future is laid out for us by White Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Ted (his daughter’s teddy bear, conveniently hanging from his belt), whereby we see the damage done by excluding people if they don’t fit in. Throw in some casual torture designed to ‘cure’ people of their natural persuasions, and you have us at the next point:


Not in a Drax kind of way, but in a ‘oooh, I see what you did there’ kind of way. We have Deadpool who’s stuck living when he’d rather die (such a Tumblr meme it would be reblogged faster than a Loki survivor gif), we have Russell being tortured to make him something he’s not, to make him fit in with society by not being a mutant (uhm… sexual orientation correction, anyone?), and we have Josh Brolin telling us that When he comes from, the Earth is pretty fucked. Ok, that’s not a metaphor, but it does mirror what’s going on right now and not even subtly. It’s a lot more than the first Deadpool movie gave us, which means not only have they not fucked it up, but they’ve managed to add more on top. Which makes it even better.

Merc with a Mouth

Gratuitous butt shot, anyone?
Is it me, or is countless F words and 2 C words a bit much for a 15 certificate? Not even the mindlessly swear-a-minute fun of Baywatch could keep up with this movie. I’m not complaining for myself - I was rolling around trying not to laugh so loud that I missed the next line. However, when people complain that their 6 year old was scared in Avengers: Infinity War when it was a 12A in the UK, I wonder if these people actually think back to the last Deadpool movie, realise how sweary it was, and then not let their 12 year old go to see Deadpool 2. I know you can’t protect everyone forever, but whoever they paid to make that movie a 15? Shame on you. The blood, the viscera, the non-stop blue and frankly purple jokes, the swearing that turned the air black - this was no way a 15 certificate. I wouldn’t want you to cut it and I wouldn’t want you to change a thing - but don’t pretend it’s less than it is. Parents and the BBFC can bitch about the ‘does watching violent TV and films make you violent’ all day long, but they’re the ones not doing anything about providing protection barriers for younger minds.

Russell - he's a keeper
That said, Deadpool’s typically motor-mouthed quips and insults were a joy. It’s almost as if Fox is doing its best to distance itself from the drama going on at the House of Mouse version of the Marvel universe right now. Whether they do another film or not, this one will forever live in my memory for such momentous fun as an entire operatic chorus going full-on John Williams meets Triumphant Mozart by singing HO-LY SHIT-BALLS for half the brilliant Big Boss battle. You have the one-liners, you have the trope-killers, you have the put-downs and Ryan Reynolds’ quiet, deliberate delivery of some cinematic history. All in all, this movie is more than just Deadpool Does New Zealand - this is a barrel of sarcastic, desperately-clinging-to-humour-to-laugh-at-the-darkness black comedic fun, and it was just the right amount of irreverent in-jokes, easter eggs and tongue-in-cheekiness I needed after Infinity War.

Verdict: Are you kidding? Run, don’t walk, to see this 9.5/10 movie - and that’s as high as I go. Make sure you stay for the 2 - count them, 2 - mid-credits scenes (there is no after-credits scene in the UK). Comedy genius, and just at the right time, if you're a fan of the other Marvel universe.

Until next time: soopytwist.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

What is this GDPR thing anyway?

If like me you work with details of living people, then you must have at least heard of the GDPR. The General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into force 25th May 2018, is basically an upgraded version of the Data Protection Act 1998 (Stephen Fry rest its soul). What does it mean? Well on top of getting all the usual stuff (people have to ask to collect your data; have to tell you why they’re collecting it and how long they’ll keep it; they can't share it or let it get lost; they can only get data from you in the first place if they actually need it for something, etc.) we get some shiny new rights. Things like telling a company they have to ‘forget’ you (as in shred or delete every single bit of data they hold on you, unless it means they can’t provide the service for which you’ve given it), and a shorter (and free) period of time to request a copy of all the info someone has on you, are quite useful in the long run and I have to say it’s high time we had this tightening of legislation.

But what does it actually mean? I’ve been on 2 courses now for work; the CIPP GDPR for Payroll course and a government accredited IT Governance GDPR course. It’s a pretty dry subject, but it’s well worth the read. The consequences of a breach of protected data at your company or business are one thing, but if you're not even aware of what constitutes a breach and what you’re supposed to do about it, things get very bad very quickly.

Take for example a typical Tuesday morning for me.

Colleague: I can’t get in the restricted-access personnel folder.

Me: Yes.
Colleague: Well I need to get in.
Me: There’s a reason you don’t have access to that folder. What are you trying to do?

Colleague: I just want to look something up.
Me: No.
Colleague: What?
Me: NO. As in ‘no’.
Colleague: But I need it.
Me: If you can demonstrate why, then I’ll get you the necessary information.
Colleague: Do I wait here?
Me: Buses don’t stop here.
Colleague: What?
Me: I don’t know why else you’d be waiting here.
Colleague: Well for access.
Me: Let’s skip a lot of misunderstanding, shall we? You need to show me first why you have a right to see the information. Then, and only then, can I give it to you.
Colleague: You’re taking this a bit far.
Me: *cups hands around mouth and shouts* Does anyone want to see the contents of Colleague’s file? It might have juicy information in it, like any grievances they’ve brought against you, or if they’re divorcing anyone, or how many kids they’re claiming childcare vouchers for - and their surnames! Anyone? Anyone?
Office: *sounds of giggles, general hand-waving of amusement and negation*
Colleague: Stop that. You can’t just show people my stuff.
Me: So you DO understand data protection, then?
Colleague: But I need access.
Me: No. What you need is to ask me for the PIECE or PIECES of information you need, and I’ll get it for you.
Colleague: Well why do you have access and I don’t? I’m a manager. You’re just a—
Me: Steady. I pay your wages into your private bank account, don’t forget.
Colleague: I was only going to say that you’re not manager level.
Me: Data protection doesn’t care about your manager level. I need your private details in order to do my job, which is pay you and create and maintain your personnel records. People sitting next to me in HR do NOT pay you, so they don’t have access to things I do, even though they’re also in HR. Directors of the company don’t have access to it either, because they don't need it to do their jobs. See how it works?
Colleague: This is going to take forever.
Me: It is if you keep going on about it. Just email me with the request for information and I’ll see if I can release it all. If I can’t, I’ll release everything I can.
Colleague: You mean even if I ask nicely I still might not get it?
Me: Correct. The same way that if someone asked me very very nicely for your personal bank details, I would say ‘no, it’s against GDPR principles’. See?
Colleague: So… how do I get the information? Can HR get it for me?
Me: No. For all the reasons I’ve just said.
Colleague: This is political correctness gone mad.
Me: *cups hands around mouth and shouts* Colleague wants to waive their right to all data protection! Who wants to trawl through their file!
Office: *more giggles, more hand-waving of amusement and negation*
Colleague: You can’t do that!
Me: You just said it was going too far. What you mean is, it’s only going too far when YOU want something FROM someone else. Are you going to go away and email me a request? I have things to do.
Colleague: You’re not being very helpful.
Lucifer Tom Ellis - up yours if you don't mind

To make matters worse, this person has actually sat through a 1 hour introduction to GDPR and done the mandatory online test afterwards - and must have scored at least 75% or they would be on my hit-list of people who need to complete it before 25th May 2018.

So this person - Fuckwit, let’s just call them Fuckwit - decides to go over my head to the GDPR working group we have. Because we have less than 250 employees we don’t need to employ a Data Protection Officer (DPO), so instead we have a group of people, one from each department, to get shit done. Fuckwit goes to make a cup of tea and tells another colleague all about it. This second colleague, full of themselves because they read an article online once, decides that Fuckwit has indeed been slighted and goes with them to lodge a complaint. So Fuckwit and - let’s call them Chucklefuck - go off together to see the person in the GDPR working group who has the final advisory decision on who gets to see sensitive data (bearing in mind that sensitive data is even more protected than normal personal data).

Fuckwit and Chucklefuck go upstairs and speak to (or rather, whinge to) someone they think can help. They tell them in no uncertain terms that actually, the one person who can advise on sensitive data issues is the only person in the company who has to work with it all day, and is therefore the only person who gets to see it or dispense it.

You get to guess who that person is.

Yes, Fuckwit and Chucklefuck have to come back down to my desk and ask me nicely to see data. I tell them again that they have to ask me in writing, and give the reasons they ‘need’ it. Because if their need isn’t a genuine requirement of completing the job for which the data was given, then the answer will again be no.

You can guess how happy they were to hear this.

They refused to write the email and said they would complain to ‘some kind of ombudsman’. I gave them the website address for the ICO who regulates all this and said I would welcome their contact with the regulatory body in charge of checking and fining people for breaches, and of course a bit of guidance from the European Commission.

They went away happy and I was happy they went away.

So there’s that.

But it’s really not that hard; the old ways of sharing stuff across offices, not even checking to see if it’s relevant or if you’re sharing stuff no-one else it supposed to see, are over. (And don’t under any circumstances share anything with the USA under their Privacy Shield - it's nowhere near the same and nowhere near as water-tight.) Privacy by design (systems that are built in such a way that they have security in every step), auditing access to info and controlling it, maintaining an effort to keep it controlled - these are all things that may seem boring and soul-destroyingly convoluted to most people, but they make up about 80% of being compliant with GDPR. When the very worst breaches in the hugest companies can attract a fine of up to €20billion, showing you’ve tried to mitigate any breach, and then how you’ve installed a better lock on the gate after the horse has bolted so it won't happen again, can really make all the difference.

And that’s pretty much it for today. At some point I’ll have to regale you with the most ridiculous email queries I’ve had just this week - honestly, some of them make you wonder how these people get their trousers on in the morning.


Sunday, 29 April 2018

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Hmm. This isn’t so much of a review as a general outpouring of thoughts.

Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!
Here be SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity War!

Not sure if this is being classed as a part 1 (with part 2 after the Captain Marvel movie?) or if the concluding part of this will be called something different - kind of like The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi - but it’s definitely just the tip of the iceberg.

What we have here is an oddity; show fan-favourites and famous faces being killed off one by one, and then when you get to the end and the good guys lose (such a Hong-Kong-ending I love it), you have a quickish deletion of another 50%, as promised. However, anyone who knows anything about Marvel knows that half of these faces must be just Princess Bride-dead, not Game of Thrones-dead, as they need them for further instalments of their own franchises. Mentioning no names, but at least 2 of the ‘dead’ people are needed as they start shooting soon.

Avengers Infinity War Loki Tom Hiddleston
And then we come to Loki; he’s been dead many times before (not counting that time he was a horse), and there’s nothing you can do or say that will ever convince me he’s really actually dead. After all, he’s a frost giant underneath and I’m willing to bet he wouldn’t freeze the same way while floating through space as others might - and that’s even if he was ever in Thanos’ grasp anyway. He was off-screen for a suspiciously long time before he re-appeared and got into it with the mad Titan. He literally snaked his way in - something I expected - before then trying to stab him with a tiny knife. Really? This is the kind of stunt he pulled on Thor way back when in The Avengers (2012) - it’s what he does when he’s not very serious about killing someone. He didn’t mean to kill Thor back then, he meant to slow him down, and I don’t think he meant to kill Thanos here either. He let Thanos believe he had broken him before that; pretending he didn’t care about Thor so he could be tortured and the Tesseract would remain safe, and then giving up and handing him one of the Infinity Stones. He let Thanos believe he had bested him, he sneaked off, he came back with a tiny knife. But did he really? Or was he biding his time, learning what he could, trying to find a way to defeat Thanos not with weapons and a good fistfight but with what Thanos truly desires? Loki has always been one for manipulation, for arrogance and mischief - not boldly trying to save the day by knifing someone in the throat.

My money is on Loki cropping up again somewhere else entirely - but we’ll get to that.

Thor and the Asgardians - what’s left of them. Half of them wiped out, apparently - where are the other half? On the one half of the ship that wasn’t destroyed? Korg better be on that ship, wherever it's got to. Thor floats through space until he's picked up by the Guardians of the Galaxy, and then the real fun begins. I think we really needed the crew of the Milano to give the film some comic relief without being out of place or silly; if Thor: Ragnarok showed everyone how to do fun, action drama with a heart, then Guardians of the Galaxy paved the way for it with proper tarmac’d on-ramps and cat’s eyes lights for safety. Fitting, then, that Thor is thrown together with the crew until they come up with a plan. Rocket is awesome as usual, but even he has grown up a little since their solo adventures (although the in-jokes are still intact, to my delight).

Tony Stark - where do we begin. He’s the same as he always was, but obviously scarred from the first Avengers movie and things that have happened since - despite, or maybe because of, Civil War, he’s now feeling pretty responsible for everyone he works with. This includes wee Peter Parker (a perfect bit of casting given a good arc), for whom the bell will inevitably toll. Crushed and perhaps finally beaten down by the end scenes, I really hope Tony finds that little ball of spite, of vengeance, in the next film. He’s constantly being kicked up the arse by the writers and I hope he gets his day.

Avengers Infinity War Guardians of the Galaxy Tony Stark Peter Parker
Speaking of Peter Parker, he once again defied everyone’s expectations of him and ploughed through it like a boss, and was only ‘defeated’ because he happened to be one of the indiscriminate 50% who had to he wiped out - he did nothing wrong, and if the odds had been different he would still have been standing right next to Tony. Isn’t it about time Tony realised ‘the kid’ can do more than he thinks he can? It’s like poor wee Peter is the Sam Winchester of the Avengers.

I’m pleased that Steve Rogers got significantly less screentime than other heavyweights like Tony Stark, Thor or Peter Quill and the gang; he was always the slightly bland, better-in-a-team character. It’s nice that’s he’s back, and of course he’s necessary, but overall he’s best in the background for me.

Which brings us to Thanos. I like that he’s not just a moustache-twirling bad guy, but someone with a plan and an order to his chaos. His idea to halve the population of the entire universe to help civilisation is not new or insane, but of course his execution could use some help. His slow take-down was planned and done well; he gets rid of anyone in his way, isn’t above a little illusion of his own, and in the end gets exactly what he wanted. Right at the end - is that what he talked about? Being able to sit and see the sun rise on a grateful universe? Where is he - back on a reformed, ‘saved’ Titan, with only a version of Gamora for company? And this ‘Gamora’ child who speaks to him at the end - very interesting. She seems to know his whole plan - either because he told her, or she told him. I wonder which one it is. And that brings me to: is that a version of Gamora as he wanted her, on his side in all things? Or is it a projection of the Soul Stone, that he could only get through sacrificing the real Gamora’s soul? Or - and this is my personal favourite - is it Loki? I mean, he could have been looking over Thanos’ shoulder since he ‘died' on the ship. He could have been watching, plotting, manoeuvring - and as soon as he knew what Thanos really wanted, he went about wondering how he could undo it. I mean, he always wanted to rule Asgard (and others), and now Asgard has been destroyed. With that gauntlet he could bring it back. Yes, that would mean he’s still vying with his adoptive brother for things, but he doesn’t seem to mind all that much any more. I think he rather enjoys it. So having Loki drop in and take this Gamora child’s place, wait for an opportune moment to snatch the gauntlet, use it to get Asgard back (and all those other people and whatevers) and possibly kill Thanos - why not?

Of course it's not going to go down like that. That would be too easy.

After all, back on Earth where there weren’t Avengers any more, Nick Fury had other plans. He obviously has Captain Marvel on speed dial, judging by the signal he sent out before he was deleted by Thanos. He must have known the universe was on standby - how did he get the intel? Who knows (not looking at you, Loki), but he did and immediately sent out a beeper for Captain Marvel. I guess we’ll have her movie next to fill everyone else in on who she is - and I’m hoping they’re going to use Kelly Sue DeConnick’s template of her character for the movie. I’m just going to assume she wasn’t the 50% of the universe who was wiped out by Thanos.

Dr Strange - he’s a shifty one. He made Thanos and everyone else fight to keep his Stone, and then when he saw Thanos about to kill Tony Stark, he gave it up. Why did he give up the one thing he said he wouldn’t the whole movie, for the bloke he patently doesn’t like? He says ‘it was the only way’ - to do what, Stephen? We’re all dying to know. It almost sounds like he has an idea of a plan, but he just hasn’t told anyone yet. Can he still exert some form of influence over the Stone, no matter where it is? Can he track it? Does he have some kind of connection to it? Only time will tell.

Captain Marvel Brie Larson on set
Now we come to endings. In the coming Return of the Jedi to this Empire Strikes Back, they will have to find a way to bring back all those characters who have franchises (I would have picked characters that didn’t, or weren’t too important in those franchises, so that their death could have been left like that - more emotional impact because you knew they weren’t coming back). On top of that, certain actors have not decided to return once this film is done. How do you ‘replace’ or distract from the missing characters? Maybe you don’t have to. After all, Captain America is just a title - and we know from comics that there have been a few Captain Americas, Steve Rogers being only the first. If Steve dies, you get Sam the Falcon as the new Captain, I’ll put money on it. What about Tony Stark? Sacrificing himself for everyone else has been his play since probably the second Iron Man movie, so seeing him taking one for the team wouldn’t be a stretch. Who would lead a new wave of Avengers after the dust clears and the Earth realises the monumental mistake they made in not letting them be Avengers for Infinity War? Little know fact: Colonel Carol Danvers has been known to lead, and in fact form, Avengers teams in comics (not to mention Alpha Flight, Marvel’s version of a weaponised DS9). Sorted.

A few final observations: I liked that people who hadn’t crossed in other films didn’t know each other in this one - the meeting of the Guardians and Tony Stark and friends was great - and I also like Dr Strange’s cloak. I’ve said it before many times and I’ll say it again - Alexander Siddig should have been Dr Strange. (You may know him from such performances as Ruben in Peaky Blinders, Dr Julian Bashir in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Ra’s al Ghul in Gotham.)

The whole film was well paced - they managed to hop, skip and jump between several subplots and splinter teams without losing much, and I think the way they put it all together was well done. My only thought was why they didn’t just use Dr Strange to teleport Wanda around destroying Stones as soon they got news that Thanos had one - she obviously has more power than most Avengers as she could destroy a Stone and keep Thanos at bay at the same time. Something tells me she’s going to be very important in the next film.

Well I think that’s everything. Overall verdict? 8.5/10 - good but long. Perhaps trying to fit so much in was ambitious. A blu ray with 15 mins of deleted scenes may have been better than a 2.5 hour movie. That said, I wouldn’t know which bits to lose.

All I can say is, bring on Captain Marvel and the next part, please.


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